The Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) has issued a A$78,540 fine (€50,000) against Ladbrokes Australia for failure to carry out due-diligence on a customer’s source of funds.
The customer in question had informed the NTRC – which serves as a licence issuer for several Australian bookmakers – that he was on a $145,000 annual salary but had ‘far less’ discretionary funding.
Records show that the gambler deposited A$2.2m and withdrew ‘just under’ A$1.5m, losing A$758,510, over a 21 month period in which he stated that ‘the vast majority of these funds gambled by me were obtained from other people’ – implying fraud or theft.
The NTRC did not disclose the customer’s name describing him as ‘the Gambler’ throughout its statement, however, The Guardian has reported that the individual in question is Gavin Fineff.
According to the newspaper, Fineff is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to ‘multiple fraud-related offences’ in New South Wales (NSW), having lost A$8m in sports bets, with much of the money acquired fraudulently through friends and/or relatives as well as his clients as a financial advisor.
Fineff informed the NTRC that he had been contacted by a Ladbrokes representative called ‘Mr B’ who promoted the firm’s customer service and offered welcome bonuses of between A$10,000 and A$20,000.
He assumed that Ladbrokes had acquired his contact details through its ‘knowledge of his use of a betting account with another sports bookmaker’, called ‘Bookmaker A’, which had requested financial information from him.
As a result, Mr B was able to set up Fineff with an account using a pseudonym but with his bank details, and he was retained with further bonuses totaling A$528,890, with A$416,390 in bonus bets and A$112,500 in bonus cash.
The NTRC statement explained: “The Gambler submitted to the Commission that he, ‘…was never encouraged’ by Ladbrokes to take responsibility for his gambling nor was he ever prompted to set a precommitment limit on the betting account.
“The Gambler further submitted that, ‘any reasonable person [could] see my betting activity [was] crazy. I am constantly asked how I deposited and bet so much money without being checked. My answer is simple and the truth is uncomplicated, I just did it. I ask myself, why wasn’t I stopped?’”
However, the regulator did acknowledge that Ladbrokes had encouraged Fineff/The Gambler to set up a deposit limit on 5 July 2019, which he did not do.
Whilst admitting that it had acquired his details from a ‘publically available source’, Ladbrokes also denied that Fineff had informed them of his previous experiences with Bookmaker A.
The firm added that there had been ‘weeks worth negotiations’ prior to opening Fineff’s account, during which he demanded ‘a certain level of bonusing/rebates’ and that he be treated as VIP customer before joining, asserting that he was a ‘sophisticated punter who had significant wealth’.
Closing its statement, the Commission concluded that Ladbrokes had breached licensing conditions when it contacted Fineff/The Gambler and ‘urged him to gamble’ and failed to identify ‘problem gambling red flag behaviours’ and undertake source of funds checks.
Additionally, Ladbrokes was found to have known of Fiineff’s identity before opening an account under a pseudonym and developed a unique set of terms between itself and the customer.
For urging Fineff to bet and failing to identify red flags regarding both existing losses at the time of his account opening and losses throughout the account lifetime, Ladbrokes was handed three separate fines of A$26,180 for a total of A$78,540.
The penalties against the Entain brand come after the FTSE100 international gambling group faced an investigation from AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) back in September 2022, assessing its compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) requirements.